Free Press: Media General Station Sale Shows Failure of Runaway Media Consolidation

Contact Info: 

Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 x 35

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, media giant Media General announced that it would sell its 63 newspapers to Berkshire Hathaway for $142 million. Among those for sale are five newspapers in markets where Media General also currently owns television stations — a violation of Federal Communications Commission media ownership limits, which the company has sidestepped through the use of temporary waivers. The markets are Bristol, Va., Columbus, Ga., Greenville, S.C., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Roanoke, Va. The sale is a step toward the breakup of these illegal local media monopolies. Media General’s newspapers in Tampa, Fla., including the Tampa Tribune, are not part of the sale, and are reportedly being shopped separately.

Free Press Senior Policy Counsel Corie Wright issued the following statement:

“Free Press is pleased that Media General, once the biggest proponent of eliminating FCC media ownership protections, has wisely decided to unwind this failed business model.

“Cross-ownership of newspapers and TV stations doesn’t benefit media companies or the public. Media General isn’t the only example of this failed approach. Tribune, the nation’s largest owner of newspaper-television combinations, has been mired in bankruptcy proceedings since 2008.

“Most importantly, evidence shows that cross-ownership leaves communities with fewer independent sources of local news, and less local news overall. Nevertheless, in response to industry pressure, the FCC is still pushing to further gut limits on cross-ownership.

“The FCC should not create new local media monopolies by relaxing its long-standing ban on newspaper-broadcast combinations. It's clear these combinations are bad for business at big media companies, and they are an undisputed disaster for local media competition and diversity."

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